My Feelings Exactly

Ever wonder what cats do when you’re at work all day? I had a chance to see firsthand as I spent the first of a few upcoming vacation days cleaning house and waiting for my friends to show up. Here’s what the cats did:

Calypso, more-or-less conked out.

Darwin, in his favorite belly-to-the-wall lounging position

I think they had the right idea. I was a fairly busy bee most of the day but I did get to spend a solid couple of hours finishing The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (fabulous, heartwrenching book, btw). I can’t remember the last time I had that much guilt-free time to just sit, by myself, and quietly read. It was nice and probably good to get it in now before my friends and I get to where we’re going: a 10-years-since-we-met-Cornell-‘family’-reunion in Cape Cod. I can’t wait to see everyone for longer than the timespan of a wedding! So far, we’ve all gathered together from our various corners of the country once every year since graduation. I love that.

In knitting news, I’ve been doing my best to work on my Zombie Shawl but life has been intervening. I’m hoping I find time to catch up with things this week. I think I’m going to go with the darker colorway for the lace, thanks for chiming in! Since I have no knitting to show you, have some pretty yarn:

The lovely folks at The Verdant Gryphon periodically get together to have ‘drunken dye parties’ and then sell the resulting skeins as special, one-off colorways. I had not yet purchased one but was very happy to win this fun skein of Bugga in a lottery on Ravelry!

Happy Friday, everyone. 🙂 My your weekend be as chillaxing as my cats’ weekends will likely be.

Relaxation: Succeeded

Finally (finally!) the Fiasco and I had a weekend where we were both off from work and had nothing else pressing that needed doing. For what felt like the first time this summer, we got to spend time together and just relax. So yes, camping was glorious. I took exactly one picture because other than to sporadically check the weather, all technology was blissfully turned off.

But at least I snapped a picture of my knitting! 🙂 This project shall now be referred to as Zombie Shawl since it has been hibernating and resurrected more times than I can count. I cast this thing on in August of 2011… yes, 2011. The pattern is Taygete by Rosemary Hill and it’s a lovely design, I don’t know why it’s been so touch-and-go. I’m using a couple of old SG Bugga colorways: Fig Eater and Dog Days Cicada. It’s a great greeny-purple and minty-pale-green combination. My goal is to finish it before we hit the 2 year mark… sigh. At least I’m excited about it again!

I do have a question for you: would you do the lace portion in darker color and the edging in the lighter color (option A), or the lace in the lighter color and the edging in the darker color (option B)? Here are examples I snagged from a couple of gorgeous projects on Ravelry:

Option A, copyright MnM on Ravelry
Option B, copyright paradisepal on Ravelry

They’re both gorgeous but it does make quite a change to the look of the shawl and I flip back and forth constantly over which way I’d like to do it. Thoughts?

IS #27: Colorful Feet

This Inspiration Saturday post is brought to you late in the day due to being up all night walking in Relay for Life for my company team. (If you feel inclined to donate, you can still do so here!) It was a total last minute decision but it was a great event for a good cause and I’m very glad I went. Since I’m enjoying working on my colorwork sock using Skinny Bugga yarn so much, I thought I’d compile a few more projects from Ravelry showcasing colorwork and Skinny Bugga… just because I love trolling Ravelry for inspiration and seeing the fabulous combinations of already fabulous colors. Be prepared for some WOW!

Copyright otilde

This stunning pair of socks was knit by otilde with CY Skinny Bugga in Charaxes Tiridate and Opalescent Squid. They are almost too beautiful for words! The pattern is Nightingale by Vintage Purls. If it weren’t toe-up, I would be all over trying this one out.

Copyright Mireille7

This pair of socks by Mireille7 is really cool! The construction is interesting and I love the pops of color in the accent bands. She used SB in Maxima Clam for the main color and assorted leftovers for the accent. The pattern is Sock Strap by General Hogbuffer (that name???).

Here’s another lovely pair knit by Mirielle7. For these she used Blue Ringed Octopus and Blue Lobster, a fabulous combination. The pattern doesn’t appear to be available, fortunately.

Copyright beccas

Can you say holy-knee-highs?! This pair by beccas is amazing and wonderful. She used an older colorway of Skinny Bugga from the Sanguine Gryphon days, The Very Quiet Cricket, paired with an undyed skein. I have no need for knee-high socks in my life and zero desire to knit that much leg but man, do I want these socks anyway. The pattern is Neptune High by Glenna C. Good news: the pattern is written for either knee-highs or regular socks, so into the queue it goes!

Copyright evucis

And finally, I really like when colorwork takes whimsical turns, as in these lizard socks knit by evucis. She used SG colorways (Miss Spider and Beyer’s Jewelr Scarab) to great effect, the way the bright green pops off the purplish pink is perfect. The pattern is Lizard Socks by Beate Zach and looks fun to make.

What’s been inspiring you lately? Do you have a favorite colorwork pattern? Please share!

Keepin’ It Loose

Happy Friday, everyone! I have nothing finished this week because my knitting time was practically nonexistent, but I do have a little progress to show!

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Melusine and some Bugga in Blue Lobster for contrast.

That is the beginning of the second Tour-de-Sock pattern, Chicane Socks by Debbie O’Neill. I debated earlier in the week whether to knit the second sock of the first TDS pattern and (obviously) decided to start the new sock. For one, I’ll take almost any excuse to start a new project, the beginnings of projects are my favorite parts. For another, I feel less guilty about all my stash yarn when more of it’s currently in use. And finally, by the end of TDS I’m going to have a pretty difficult time ignoring all of the gorgeous half-finished pairs of socks lying around, so the motivation to finish them should be strong minus the feeling of repetition that sometimes happens when I knit one sock right after the first.

This was my first time knitting any sort of colorwork that involves a significant number of floats on the back of the fabric (those long strands of yarn you see there). I was pretty anxious about keeping them loose since carrying the unused strand behind the work tightens up the fabric and in a sock that needs to stretch over the heel, that’s not great. In fact, a sock with a too-tight-cuff is pretty much the worst thing ever. To help prevent this I went up a needle size, cast on more stitches than I usually use with this yarn (72 instead of 60-66), knit CRAZY LOOSELY especially when going from the end of one needle to another (give the float a little tug with your fingers after you knit the next stitch so it doesn’t snug up too much between DPNs), and I elongated the ribbing and shortened the leg overall so the colorwork part would hit lower on the calf when worn, which works better for my short and stout legs… in theory. I have no idea if any of that will help yet but the fabric seems like it has a decent amount of stretch so here’s hoping!

Anybody have some good colorwork tips? I think the third TDS pattern is going to involve much more colorwork so I’m all ears.

FO Friday #18: Beautiful Bugga Blues

I finished this WIP early last week but was waiting to get better photos before I showed it off. However, the opportunity to get better photos is eluding me so you get crummy ones instead because I’m impatient! Hopefully the awesomeness is apparent regardless.

SG/CY Bugga in colorways Box Jellyfish and Blue Ringed Octopus

This color combination is no doubt, hands-down, my absolute favorite of ALL FREAKING TIME. Yeah. It’s that good. The deep dark teal and pale greeny-blue-aqua together just makes my color-lovin’ heart sing. Not to mention that it coordinates with nearly everything in my closet.

Freakish, right?

Somestimes the Fiasco and I play the “how many matching accessories is Alicia wearing right now” game. I don’t know why but I get a strange OCD thrill from matching/coordinating everything I’m wearing, which I’ve done since at least high school. (Aside: but I weirdly hate when people wear an entire outfit all the same color, those velour pantsuit lungewear things from Old Navy drive me crazy…) Anyway, back to the shawl.

I started this puppy back in February 2012 and it took me 16 months to finish because it was boring as hell. The pattern is Flamboyan by Stephen West and it is without a doubt a clever, striking, and stylish design… I just hated knitting it. I am not a fan of large swaths of stockinette (it’s the purl back rows that get me) and juggling three balls of yarn for the (very simple) intarsia was annoying. And then there were the endless three inches of ribbing for the edging. By the last row there were over 570 stitches on the needle and I think 570 stitches of ribbing is just too much for my taste.

All that aside, I do love the finished piece. It’s a bit small for me to use as a stand-alone shawl (as in it doesn’t cover too much of my upper arms, which I like for warmth) but it is a generously-sized shawlette that is perfect for the around-the-neck kerchief-style of wearing. I used Cephalopod Yarns Bugga on size US 6 needles and the combination made for a fabulous fabric. The stitches are smooth, even, and gorgeous. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that using anything besides Bugga (or another sportweight Merino/cashmere blend I suppose) would be a crime for this shawl. Bust out the big guns for this thing to make it extra special. The only thing I changed about the pattern was the bind off. I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off alternating between the knit setup and the purl setup where appropriate which made for a neat zig-zag effect on the edge. In short, I definitely recommend the pattern for looks and style if you’re in the mood for a whole lot of mindless knitting. However, I will probably never knit one again. 🙂

Planning Is Just As Good, Right?

No. Not right. Planning what to knit might be pretty fun, but it is still not just as good as actually knitting. Unfortunately, planning is all I’ve had time for this week. Still, I think it’s a pretty good plan.

L to R: Sock A, Sock B, Sock C plans

The patterns for the Tour-de-Sock are still a mystery (JUST TWO MORE DAYS, YAY!) but they did give some hints of what supplies would be needed to achieve each challenge so we intrepid knitters could prepare. Being probably 70% composed of BMFA Socks That Rock, my sock stash is pretty wild color-wise and many of the patterns suggested semi-solid or tonal skeins, so choosing was actually pretty tough. Sock A suggested a semi-solid with 15 grams of contrast color (uh-oh, colorwork) and I’ll decide which accent to use when I see the pattern. The yarn is STR Lightweight in Melusine and the contrasts are Bugga leftovers. Sock B suggested semi-solid or tonal with about 500 beads of 2 different colors (YES, 500). I have no idea if I have 500 beads there but they’ll have to do. The yarn for this is STR LW Rare Gem Water. Sock C suggests yarn with stripes or a long color change/gradient, so I thought my new BMFA BFL Fingering in SasSwatch might work nicely (and I’m itching to try the new base).

L to R: Sock D, Sock E, and Sock F plans

Sock D just required solid or semi-solid yarn and I couldn’t decide between these skeins. I’ll probably end up going with on that has already been wound but these are Bugga in Northern Purple Gold Beetle, STR LW in Tempest, and the full skein is Bugga in Ruby-Tailed Wasp. Sock E required solid yarn and about 50 matching beads, for which I will use STR LW in Bleck and some gunmetal-colored beads which don’t quite match but look great with the yarn. Finally, Sock F requires 50 grams of one color, 50 of another, and 15 of a third (more colorwork!!). These little bits of Skinny Bugga in natural, Blue Ringed Octopus, and Ghost Moth should do nicely! We’ve been informed that Sock E will be the first challenge, which is sweet because it’s already wound (lazy much?) and I’m excited to see what’s going on with the beads.

Thanks for the lovely wishes about my new nephew… but he’s still forthcoming so I didn’t get to meet him on my trip back home. Poor SIL was in the hospital for 2 days and has been contracting for over a week but the little tyke just doesn’t seem ready to come out yet. Hopefully soon! In the meantime, here’s a happy photo I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to see happen. That’s my current nephew in the middle and my pending nephew in the belly on the right:

Isn’t he a cutie? Now back to life so that eventually I can get back to knitting!

FO Friday #17: That’s Better

Seeing as my sister-in-law is in labor as I type and my new little nephew should be arriving some time today, I’m thrilled to have finished this baby set:

This is an extensively modified version of Jared Flood’s Turn A Square hat pattern and a troublesome pair of matching socks knit out of The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga in Box Jellyfish and Common Emerald Moth. I love these colorways together, the green just glows. Also, the hat and socks together used less than 40 grams / 126 yards of yarn, so it’s great for sock leftovers. You can see the modifications I made on my Ravelry page. Also, this set is finished item #6 of the 13 SG/VG/CY in 2013 projects that I’m doing as part of my fiber goals for the year and #22 of the 50 total projects I hope to finish this year. Not bad progress, eh?

Proof that they do, indeed, match now. Also, flash reveals all sorts of messiness regarding the weaving in of ends!

Thanks for all the suggestions on what might have gone wrong with these little socks. I checked the gauge, which was the same, and counted all the rows between sections of the sock. Turns out I had somehow worked about 5 extra rows in the foot and toe of Sock 1… and then wrote down different instructions? Still not clear on what exactly happened (I blame airplane turbulance) but I ended up frogging back the foot of the larger sock and reknitting it to what I knew I had done for the second sock. I liked the slightly smaller version better anyhow.

As the Yarn Harlot says*, I’ve finished the baby knitting, so now the baby can arrive. Exciting!

*It did not escape my notice that the Yarn Harlot is also having bootie problems. It’s like we’re the same person**
**I wish. She’s my hero.

WIPWed #25: Knitting All The Things

I hope your weeks are going well! I had an unpleasant dentist visit yesterday and consoled myself by knitting whatever I wanted for the rest of the evening. Turns out, what I wanted to knit was everything, as I made quite a bit of progress on a variety of projects. Here’s what I’ve been working on lately.

Tiny Turn-A-Square:

SG Bugga, colorways Box Jellyfish and Common Emerald Moth

Technically, my baby-sized adaptation of Jared Flood’s Turn A Square hat is finished (and adorable!), however, I’m not counting the project as done until I complete the matching socks:

Because why not?

Itty bitty socks are just too cute.

Budding Lintilla:

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig

My socks-that-rock-tastic Lintilla shawl is growing slowly longer and wider. I wish I could show you how it looks dangling from the needles, it twists and curls in a long ringlet of colorful wool quite charmingly. Very pretty.

Spring-y Socks:

Play At Life gradient dyed sock yarn

I made a tiny bit of progress on my spring crocus socks. The pattern defies memorization so this is a sit-and-concentrate kind of knit that I only get a chance to work on sparingly.

Beautiful Briny Sea:

SG and CY Bugga, colorways Box Jellyfish and Blue Ringed Octopus

I’m happy to have finally resurrected one of my ancient WIPs, Stephen West’s Flamboyan shawl, although I must admit it is an exceedingly tedious knit. It’s a simple, attractive, striking design but there’s no getting around how much I dislike actually knitting it. For half the shawl you’re juggling three balls of yarn and switching back and forth between garter and stockinette, so you never develop a good rhythym. Then you finally get through all that and are like “yes, one color, simple ribbing!” exscept it turns out it’s not so simple as all that. The first row is ribbing with increases every few stitches with lots of stitches on the needle already. That is a recipe for a miscount and I had gotten off by one stitch… and then the shawl sat for months and months, waiting for me to find the patience to tink back stitch by stitch and pick them all up again. Apparently, a side effect of novocaine is lots of patience? Not sure if that’s true, but either way I fixed the mistake and even progressed through 2 more rows of ribbing. I feel like I’m in the homestretch but looking at the size of the ball of yarn left over, I think this ribbing is going to be endless. Just 3 more inches to go!

Purple Squishy:

Lots and lots of scraps.

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with opinions on my big idea, I decided to go ahead and cast on this big squishy blanket, craziness be damned! I was highly amused by the number of comments that went along the lines of “I think it’s great but don’t listen to me, I’m crazy, too”. 🙂 I went through my stash and pulled out all the little bits and bobs I plan to use up throughout the course of this monster. Don’t worry, there are no deadlines for this and I won’t let myself stress out too much about planning where every single colors goes. The goals of this project are to have 1) fun with colors, 2) soothing knitting, and 3) a big cozy blanket at the end. The one thing I did decide, though, was to use up some extra-soft, fuzzy skeins of an angora mix (the blue and white balls in plastic) by knitting them with the purple mystery wool (on the left) that will serve as the alternate to the purple malabrigo (to the right). The mystery wool is a bit scratchy so pairing it with the angora blend should soften it right up as well as ensure some larger areas of consistent color, so it’s not too stripey crazy.

Phew, that’s enough out of me, I think! Check out some other WIPs by clicking the image below.

WIPWed #24: Knitting Spring

When looking at my works-in-progress together, it is clear that I am trying to knit all of the colors of spring at once. And you know what? That makes me extraordinarily happy. Here’s what I’ve been working on lately:

Tiny Turn-A-Square:

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorways Box Jellyfish and Common Emerald Moth

For this WIP, I’m taking Jared Flood’s free Turn A Square pattern and babysizing it for my future nephew. I’m knitting it with sport weight yarn on size 4 needles (instead of worsted on 7’s) and cast on 80 sts. I’m doing just one bold stripe near the brim, then will do a series of thin stripes through the decreases. I’ve stashed a bunch of Bugga but I usually conserve it for the super special projects that I sometimes forget how wonderful it is. It’s knitting up delightfully at this gauge (about 6 sts/inch). This little beanie should be done in no time and I’ll probably make some matching booties as well.

 Budding Lintilla:

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig

To say I am utterly charmed and delighted by this WIP is an understatement. I really love this thing. I think of myself as Not A Pink Person but there’s something about the interplay between it and the bright springy greens and shots of coral in this yarn that I am totally into, and I love the way the short rows in the Lintilla shawlette pattern affect the stripes. It’s an addicting little knit, for sure.

Spring-y Socks:

Play At Life Revelous Sockie Maki

This WIP is probably the springiest one yet. I adore the gradient yarn so very much and I just had to pick a delicate, lacy sock pattern to go with it. I chose Hunter Hammersen’s Crocus Vernus socks, from her first Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet book. I already pre-ordered the second one, because really admire her design sense.

Copyright Hunter Hammersen

Knit up in my yarn, the socks will start green at the cuff and work their way through pale lilac to a deep purple at the toe. I can see it in my mind already and it’s going to be awesome, don’t you think?

Starry Petals:

The Sanguine Gryphon Zaftig Bugga, colorway Starry Night Cracker

Finally, this WIP is making me super duper sad that Zaftig Bugga (a hefty, worsted weight version of Bugga) has been discontinued because it is fabulous. Look at how plump, even, and gorgeous those stitches are! It’s making such a wonderful fabric. This is going to be a Zuzu’s Petals cowl by Carina Spencer. This is one of those rare patterns that I love so much I’m willing to knit it multiple times and I think it makes really great gifts. I actually finished another so quickly last week that it went from WIP to FO without ever seeing the blog. It’s blocking now and I will show it off on Friday, but just as a little teaser, I knit it out of this lovely earth-toned handspun:

3-ply worsted weight superwash Merino/Tencel blend

… which did fantastic things in the pattern. Can’t wait to show you! I think that’s all I’ve been actively knitting in the last couple of weeks. Lots of new projects, not doing so well with finishing up ancient WIPs, but I’m sure I’ll get to them.. someday. 🙂

FO Friday #11: Fierce Fracas

Stupid blogger ate my post! I wrote this one already! Grr! So I guess you guys will be getting the short-and-sweet version now…

The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Fierce Snake

These are my modified version of Hunter Hammersen’s Fracas Cuffs. There is a matching hat in her delightful collection of accessories, Rabble Rousers. I highly recommend the book.

Both elegant and sassy, yes?

I like them, but these are for my mom. These represent the last holiday gift I still needed to finish… yay!

And before I forget, I just wanted to let you all know that my Fiasco socks would fight in nicely with this month’s challenge in the Sock Knitter’s Anonymous group on Ravelry. If you’re unaware, SKA is an excellent group of hardcore, talented sock knitters who challenge themselves each month with different pattern techniques, designers, and mystery KALs. One of the techniques for March is to knit socks designed specifically for men.

These Fiasco socks were designed for my very own Fiasco (a.k.a. fiance), so they would fit the bill perfectly. If you don’t have a knit-worthy man in your life, the pattern is written in three sizes for three yarn weights (fingering, sport, and DK) so it can be made to fit pretty much anybody. I would really love to see some Fiasco socks in March’s SKA KAL!

And as a reminder, all of my patterns are on sale for 20% off on Ravelry with the code ‘YayMal13’ in honore of the beginning of Malabrigo March! Yay for March, yay for KALs!